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Ohiopyle gets its wish: Plenty of snow for Winterfest

| Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Getting ready for a run are Dean and Dan Brant of Willshire Farms with horses Rosie and Joe. MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Becky Devaney of Chalk Hill enjoys a sled run down the slope with niece Madison Everly, 9. MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
David Mercier and son David Mercier, 4, of Rochester, Beaver County, take a turn on cross-country skis. MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
The McClean family of Pittsburgh head toward the hill for some sledding. From left are Savannah, 4, Abbie, 11, Emily, 4, Kevin and Susan. MARILYN FORBES | FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Mother Nature looked kindly upon the Ohiopyle Winterfest this year.

Several inches of snow covered the sledding and winter activities area at Sugar Loaf recreational area in the state park.

“We are so happy that it snowed,” Ohiopyle Park Naturalist Barbara Wallace said. “We didn't have any snow at all last year, and we still had a nice day, but having the snow is great.”

The event took place Feb. 2, when hundreds of visitors from all over Western Pennsylvania were welcomed.

“We come every year,” Ed Hollis of Greensburg said. “Even last year when it didn't snow, we were here. It's a good way to get out and get some fresh air in the wintertime.”

The event was sponsored jointly by Ohiopyle State Park and the volunteer group Friends of Ohiopyle, which put together the winter event every year.

“We have a lot of good volunteer help,” Wallace said. “Everyone works hard to make this a fun and interesting day for families to enjoy.”

This year, visitors enjoyed sledding and tubing; sleigh rides; cross-country skiing; snowshoe hikes; a campfire; and “Snow Snake.”

“This is an old game that Native Americans used to play as a way to socialize with each other,” Wallace said of the new game in which participants slide a broom down the snow tube or “Snow Snake.” “We thought it would be fun to try something different,” she said.

The event also featured the fire-and-ice exhibit that showed visitors the color breakdown of ice and snowflakes.

Many families joined in the fun. Although the event has countless repeat visitors, there were people enjoying the event for the first time.

“We heard about this when we were up here in the summer,” said David Mercier of Rochester, Beaver County. “I think this is pretty cool.”

Mercier said that his family took part in many of the activities and enjoyed them all.

“We tried the skiing and we did the snowshoeing, and we want to go on the horse-drawn carriages,” Mercier said. “We are going to hang out for the whole day.”

Another new family to the winter event, the McCleans of Pittsburgh, also heard about Winterfest while visiting Ohiopyle in the summer.

“We're going to try it all,” Kevin McClean said of the activities.

“This is a great day to have some fun,” Wallace said. “We have a day filled with fun family activities.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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